Hit “Like” to share with your friends!
FRIDAY FEATURE: Simon Grenehed of Blindside, Part 2
Here’s the second part of Whole Notes’ interview with Blindside guitarist Simon Grenehed:
Bonham: Do you recognize those young guys from 15 years ago that were on the scene, hitting it hard and playing the small venues? Are you guys the same or is there a different purpose behind what the band does now?
Grenehed: We were formed by those years. There’s something that happens when we get in a room together. That’s not going to change. But also, you become different individuals the older you get. The last couple of years playing outside of the States, we’ve been trying to figure out our own sound and style as well, which has just come from playing in different types of settings. We’re super excited about the live shows because of the new material. We just started playing a couple of those songs live and we’re really excited about how they’re coming out.
Bonham: As one of a few bands that went from the Christian independent rock scene and then found success in the general market, how comfortable have you been bouncing back and forth between the various venues in which you find yourself performing?
Grenehed: The whole Christian scene is something we were unaware of when we started the band. It was something we got to know when we came over to the States. That was never our main focus. We were just playing and didn’t have too many goals. When things happened in different directions, we just kind of flowed with it. But I do think that we don’t have any problem playing in front of whoever is in the room or whatever kind of crowd. We learned when we opened for a lot of bands that we’re out to conquer the audience. They don’t know who you are when you start out. But we do feel comfortable just being in all those places. For us, it can be something really powerful when you play in a Christian venue and everybody is focused on the same thing. But also, I think you can get into that same mode when you play anywhere else. We have a couple songs where for some reason they’re not about a band on a stage. It’s about everybody in the room. It connects to a feeling or a melody that people can meditate on in whatever form like want to and express it in their own way.
Bonham: Do you feel like bands such as yourself, P.O.D. and Switchfoot have more responsibility because of your ability to connect with a mainstream audience better than other Christian bands have been able to do?
Grenehed: No. (Laughs) We are who we are. As far as being in whatever venue in front of different people, if you stay true to that and your core and what the band is about, people feel it if it’s real. I think that’s what will show in the end. It’s not about what you say on stage. For us, it’s been going out with bands that don’t necessarily have the same faith as us. It’s so much about relationships. If you’re spreading the word in any way, it’s going to be through who you are off the stage as well.
Bonham: What’s going on in Stockholm these days within the church there and how have you guys plugged back into that community?
Grenehed: I don’t know man. It’s funny because every time we talk to people in the States they’re like, “Yeah, I heard about all the things going on in Sweden!” We’re like, “Where did you go?” Sweden is a very secularized country. I think it’s like four percent or less Christian. But there are some amazing movements going on. For us, it’s more staying within whatever church or community where we already are and really working there.
Bonham: What is the game plan for how you’re going to tackle this new project with touring and promotions, especially considering the new reality within the music industry where record sales are harder to come by?
Grenehed: That’s exactly why we didn’t rush it and go do things the old fashioned way. That’s why we did the web campaign and released the songs streaming one at a time. We just tried to figure out different ways we could do things in an innovative way. Now that the record is out, we’re going to focus on touring and getting the music out there. Of course we’re very excited about getting back to the States. We have a tour that’s staring in September and we’re playing Cornerstone Festival as well. We’re ready to get back on it. It’s always hard. It depends on the kind of feedback you get from the fans. We really understand that we have to start at zero and go from there. Everything isn’t planned out yet. We’re going to take the information we have so far and see what we should do next.
Bonham: You guys have been one of the better bands for embracing video. Will that continue with this record?
Grenehed: We definitely believe in having something visual out there. We’re going to try to focus on that and get some video material out so people can see what the old men look like nowadays (laughs).
Click here for Part 1 of this interview. Join us next week for Monday Music News plus an interview with Royal Tailor and a review of Peter Furler’s debut solo project.
Hit “Like” to share with your friends!
FRIDAY FEATURE: Simon Grenehed of Blindside, Part 1
It’s been four years since Swedish post-hardcore band Blindside released The Black Rose EP and six years since it’s last full-length project (The Great Depression). After spending some quality time with their families, the band appears ready for another strong run with the INO Records/Sony RED project With Shivering Hearts We Wait, which released earlier this month.
The album reunited Blindside with Howard Benson who produced the band’s breakout Elektra Records projects Silence and About a Burning Fire. Benson is noted for his work with such rock acts as My Chemical Romance, Papa Roach and Flyleaf.
Whole Notes caught up with Simon Grenehed recently on a phone call from his home near Stockholm, Sweden. In part one of this interview, he talks about why the band was away from the scene for so long, how it reconnected with producer Howard Benson and what has impacted the band’s evolving sound:
Bonham: You guys have been off the map for a while. Some people might have thought the band was done.
Grenehed: Yeah, that’s what a lot of people thought, apparently. I think we’re to blame for that a bit as well because we haven’t told people what we’re up to lately.
Bonham: Were you taking time off to spend with family, to recharge?
Grenehed: Partly it was that. There’s a couple of kids in picture now, but as far as the band and the music goes, I think we’ve been working for a very long time. We were supposed to release a record in ’07 that fell through because of record company problems. We’ve been writing for a long time. But the reason we haven’t told people that much is, my whole view of the thing is that if you don’t have anything to say, just don’t do it (laughs). We didn’t want to give people false expectations about where we were because for a long time we didn’t have anything going for us. We didn’t have a record company. We had a lot of music but we didn’t really know how to restart things again.
Bonham: You guys got caught up in some of the fallout from the record industry implosion.
Grenehed: Definitely. We released About a Burning Fire (in 2004) and it did a great first week and then the record company merged with another company and so all the people we’d been working with for the past few years were suddenly gone. It was a tough blow but it also pushed us into making new decisions and finding other ways to work it.
Bonham: Was there anything positive that came out of it the situation and being able to stay home for an extended period of time?
Grenehed: Yeah, definitely. When things started to look like we needed to take break, even when we didn’t understand it or want to do it at the time, I think we really needed to because you really find your identity being in a band. You become Simon of Blindside. I think we focused on doing others things that didn’t have anything to do with the band to kind of find out our own identities and took the time to focus on our family life. We took day jobs and stuff like that and I think it was good for us.
Bonham: What else has kept the band busy in terms of tying back in to your local community and things like church involvement?
Grenehed: That was part of it as well. When you’re a band of faith and you go out and tour, that becomes your church basically. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure that out at home. It’s a very different situation, but both have their pros and cons for sure.
Bonham: So do you feel recharged and ready to roll again?
Grenehed: No. (Laughs) We’ve been working too hard at our day jobs. We need to get on a vacation and tour. No, I think we’re very ready to go on tour. Of course it’s a very different situation with kids in the picture. You can’t motivate for your family to go away for a month.
Bonham: Who in the band has children?
Grenehed: Christian has two kids and Thomas has one kid.
Bonham: In my opinion, Howard Benson was the producer of your two best albums to this point (Silence and About a Burning Fire). It seems like you guys have a good relationship with him and he brings a lot of great things out of the band. Why has that been such a solid partnership and how did you end up working with him again?
Grenehed: When we were in hiatus, so to speak, we really had time to think what we wanted to do with the next album. One of those things we wanted to explore was if we could do another record with Howard. Of course, at that point, we didn’t really have a record company or anything and Howard was getting Grammy nominations and stuff like that. It was very different. We were worlds apart. But we just thought we should send the demo over there and see if he liked and if he wanted to do something. We’ve become kind of close to his whole team over in L.A., and have special ties with their families. So as far as recording goes, we felt like we were at home. Those guys are basically the ones that we’ve been working with over our careers. It was very easy to get back into the same working relationship and of course they’re all super professional. It was a nice ride to go over there and record. We understand each other very well and they know our good things and our bad things. It was a good ride. We also tried to push it and try different ideas. We’re really excited about how the record came out.
Bonham: The band has changed quite a bit from the Solid State years to now. What has been the genesis of Blindside’s sound and how it’s become more diverse over time?
Grenehed: We’re totally a band that follows our hearts and tries not to have any boundaries. That happens more the longer we’ve played together. That shows on this record too with all the strings and electronic parts. When you first start playing, you get inspired by all the bands around you. I think, for us, after a while when you learn how to play, you start figuring stuff out on your own. We haven’t listened to any good new rock bands in a long time and so it’s easy to get into the rehearsal space and focus on your own thing. As we follow our hearts, whatever comes out, comes out.
Bonham: What was the band’s mindset as you approached the writing of this new record? Did you have a theme and did any of the recent struggles play into that?
Grenehed: Of course, Christian writes the lyrics but it’s always difficult for us because we don’t have a theme when we get started. We go in there to find out things as we move along. We write the songs and look back and say, “Okay, this is the theme for this record.” That’s been the case the last couple of records now. I don’t want to say we were bitter or anything. A lot of the hiatus was self-chosen. Once we did start writing and we knew we were going to do a record, it was more excitement to be able to do this one more time. But thematically, we’re still trying to figure that out.
Click here for Part 2 of Whole Notes’ interview with Blindside guitarist Simon Grenehed.
Hit “Like” to share with your friends!
THURSDAY TRACK OF THE WEEK: Royal Tailor – Black & White (Provident)
When RNB/pop band All Together Separate departed the scene in 2003, it left a void within the Christian music industry. But in all honesty, it’s not like there was a huge glut of funk and soul driven artists littering the landscape anyway.
Perhaps that’s why new four-piece outfit Royal Tailor so prominently stands out. With a big sound that invokes hints of Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars, the multi-racial band stands poised to make a sizeable dent in the hit radio and even adult contemporary fan base despite years of underrepresentation.
The first thing that jumps out when listening to Royal Tailor’s debut Black & White is lead singer Tauren Wells crystal clear pipes and high-end vocal range. Wells will no doubt be compared to Michael Jackson especially in light of the uncanny influence present in the inspirational ballad “Gravity (Pulling Heaven Down).” But it’s his diverse vocal ability that ultimately jumps out of the speakers from his aggressive rock flair on “Death of Me” to the ridiculous high notes hit on “Freefall.”
Royal Tailor, however, is clearly no one-man show as Wells’ band mates display musical chops well beyond what is typical amongst a group of 24 and 25 year olds. Bass player Blake Hubbard, lead guitarist D.J. Cox and drummer Jarrod Ingram move seamlessly between multiple styles and sounds and in doing so avoid sounding like mere backups to Wells’ extraordinary singing skills.
Once you get past the sheer ear candy presented throughout the 11-track album, it’s clear that Wells and company are also solid lyricists with a penchant for clever, yet poignant messages that not only provide hope for those dealing with every day struggles but also challenge listeners to more meaningful relationship with God.
The electronic/rock infused “Control” is a perfect example with biting references to the music of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry in an effort to point out how popular culture has distorted the true meaning of life with its skewed perception of love, acceptance and self worth.
There is absolutely no reason why Royal Tailor shouldn’t be the next big thing. With what seems to be the perfect mix of energy, creativity and sincere evangelistic message, Black & White has a legitimate chance to be one of the year’s best albums for Christian music fans and beyond.
To learn more about Royal Tailor, visit the band’s official website here.
Join Whole Notes tomorrow for an exclusive Beliefnet.com interview with Blindside guitarist Simon Grenehed.
Hit “Like” to share with your friends!
WORLD CHANGERS WEDNESDAY: Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real
On September 13th, Matt Hammitt will release his first solo album Every Falling Tear on Sparrow Records. Hammitt, lead singer of Dove Award-winning and GRAMMY-nominated band Sanctus Real, will donate a portion of the proceeds from the album and its singles to the Whole Hearts Foundation. Hammitt created Whole Hearts to provide assistance for families of children affected by congenital heart defects.
Hammitt has a very personal connection to the issue. His son Bowen was born last September with a severe congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. This condition occurs when parts of the left side of the heart (i.e. mitral valve, left ventricle, aortic valve and aorta) do not completely develop.
During a process that has included two heart surgeries and an infection, Hammitt began writing songs to play at Bowen’s hospital bedside. He eventually recorded demos of the songs and handed them out to other families dealing with similar challenges at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Hammitt debuted the song “All of Me” on “ABC World News.” You can watch that video below:
“Bowen’s doing great now,” Hammitt happily reported in a recent press release. “He’s making an incredible recovery and the fact that we still have him; we thank God for that every day. We’re eager to see what God continues to do through his life.”
For all the latest on Matt Hammitt and his family, click here.
And to keep up with Sanctus Real (including upcoming tour dates), check out the official band website here.
Come back tomorrow for a review of Royal Tailor’s debut album Black and White.